Games Day

Next Games Day Booking Sat July 30th

Table 1 [Downstairs - Front Bar] - 18CZ – Robin, Paul-D, Dan M, Michel

Table 2 [Downstairs - Front Bar] – Altiplano, Lost Ruins, Inca Empire - Pedro, Simon, Elsa, Steve

Table 3 [Downstairs - Front Bar] - TBC – Anthony, Daniel, Ian, [SPARE]

Table 4 [Downstairs - Side room] – Axis and Allies – Nigel, Paul B, [SPARE], [SPARE]

Table 5 [Downstairs - Side room, round table] – Lisboa – David K, John, Keith, Matt

Additional Info:
Michel suggests a shorter starting game to begin with.  Feel free to join when you turn up.

Once again you can now start to use this page to arrange the next games day which is on July 30th

Games Day April

At the April Games Day we had a couple of very strongly thematic games. While Paul and Ian’s group were on the dead man’s chest with a bottle of rum in Merchants & Marauders, John, Steve and I were up to our knees in Portuguese lagares in Vinhos. Two very thematic games with very, very different mechanics.

Merchants & Marauders is really more about the thematic immersion than the gameplay. The game has a lot of downtime and can feel unbalanced – the event of being shipwrecked is recreated accurately enough that it can be an all-but-game-ending experience for the victim. But, if you set aside any concern about a competitive outcome and just enjoy the adventure of being a sea-captain in the golden age of piracy, it can be great fun. Provided it’s your kind of theme, of course.

When I looked in, it seemed as though everyone had chosen to obey the law and play as merchants; which seemed odd, given the presence of a large and aggressive NPC pirate ship in the middle of the board. I was fortunate enough to witness the first of its various attacks on Paul. I found out afterwards that he managed to escape each time and recovered to finish 2nd, which is pretty good going in the circumstances.

Vinhos, meanwhile, is a proper heavy strategy game from Vital Lacerda. As such, it’s a game you can thoroughly enjoy even if it’s not your kind of theme; just like Kanban, which is another Lacerda game, on the theme of doing projects in an office – which surely isn’t anyone’s kind of theme… The theme of Vinhos is, of course, wine making – surely a popular one? This successful combination of an immersive thematic game with a very engaging strategic element is what makes this game so special: it’s one of my all-time favourites.

The main points in the game come from presenting at wine fairs: you can impress the wine magnates with their specific requirements, impress the wider public with a really high quality wine, and buy bonus actions from the magnates with (usually) low quality wines.

In our game Carolina, the regional magnate, consistently seemed to require wine from regions where none of us had estates. In the lead-up to one fair, I hastily bought a new estate, planted some grapes and harvested them in time to produce a borderline-unsellable wine – but Carolina was impressed because it was from Ribatejo. At last, in the final fair, she wanted a wine from Douro, where my best estates were, and I was able to present an amazing wine while impressing all the magnates. John, meanwhile, had been churning out a high volume of mediocre wines and so accumulated a lot of bonus tiles. But neither of these strategies was good enough to catch Steve, whose focus on good quality wines saw him win the game – which, from a thematic point of view, seems sensible.

I have played this game before on a Thursday evening with 4 players, and finished in time. This time, with only 3 of us, we somehow managed to take almost 6 hours. This probably says something about the more leisurely approach to Saturday games days. We also had an interval to have lunch, and another interval for Paul’s quiz.

I thought the quiz was really good: a set of cryptic clues to game titles, approachable to all in the club no matter how good your boardgames knowledge – or your knack for cryptic clues. Hopefully the quiz can be published on here for those who missed the Games Day. An incentive, if any were needed, to try to be there for the next one!

Other games in play were a return for Churchill with Sam and Michel, plus Cooper Island and Lost Ruins Of Arnak and a few shorter games. And Ed, Dave and Dan playing a space game which looked very intriguing (and somewhat bureaucratic, with the clipboards). But I’ve forgotten what it was called; so, because they didn’t post on the board beforehand, we’ll never know…

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One Response to Games Day

  1. Michel says:

    Yesterday I finally played my first 18xx and it was great to play again with DanM and PaulD. They (and Robin) had played 18xx before (but not 18CZ) and patiently guided me through the rules and some of the finer points of this kind of game. Discounting setup, rules explanations and lookups throughout the game, and food breaks, we played for about 6.5h. I’m sure seasoned players can get it done in 4h or less, but it’s still too long for my taste.
    I’m fine with the length of games like Churchill and Twilight Struggle because they cover many years of history, and the situation changes a lot throughout, with events throwing a spanner in our plans. But 18CZ is quite repetitive in its motions of buying and selling stock, laying and upgrading track, buying and running trains, incorporating smaller companies before all their trains rust.
    Midway through the last stock round it was clear Dan would win: we all had similar cash but Dan had most shares of the 2 most expensive companies. I doubt the ensuing 3 operating rounds changed our relative positions.
    It seems to be an unforgiving game in that one mistake can put you in a unrecoverable position and you just slog through the next 2h. On the plus side, contrary to games where it’s hard to put the finger on what went wrong, Paul and I know exactly where we messed up the second half of the game and so we can take away clear lessons for next time (if there’s one).
    The game isn’t very thematic: each train uses different track; companies don’t profit from the sale of their stock; private companies that run in one part of the country give special abilities for laying track anywhere; upgrading a track hex (to have more branches) is free, no matter the terrain.
    18CZ is a bit complicated (inelegant may be a better word). The game can go through up to 16 phases (based on the latest train bought). There are 2 kinds of companies (private/public), each in 3 different sizes. There are 4 levels of track tiles, each in up to 4 kinds (normal, Y, OO, purple border). And all these things impact each other. Too many details and ‘little rules’ for my taste.
    Design elegance is a major ingredient for my enjoyment of games. I admire designers who can conjure a great and thematic gaming experience out of few rules and moving parts. I dislike when rules feel tacked on to restrict what players can do to force agonising decisions. That’s why I tend to play older games instead of recent ones. I don’t think many or complicated rules are needed to experience the tension of how much to bid in an auction game, where to move and attack in a wargame, which connections to build in a network game, which areas to fight for in an area control game, how much to risk in a push your luck game, etc.
    To sum up, I don’t regret yesterday’s 8h marathon a bit. The company was excellent and the game is good, just too long and repetitive for me. I like train games and won’t judge 18xx based on one game. If someone knows of a shorter and less complicated 18xx, I’m willing to try it.

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